Much Ado about Oronsaye Report

Much Ado about Oronsaye Report

By Olusegun Adeniyi

On Monday, the federal government announced its preparedness to implement the Steve Oronsaye Report of 2012 and the subsequent 2014 White Paper by the Mohammed Bello Adoke inter-ministerial committee. President Bola Tinubu, we have been told, has given the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) a 12-week implementation timeline. “Many agencies will be scrapped, and many others will be merged, to pave the way to a leaner government,” according to presidential spokesperson, Bayo Onanuga, in a post on X (formerly Twitter), following Monday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting. The specific agencies to be merged or scrapped have also been highlighted so the weeks ahead are bound to be interesting in that regard.

Considering that I have written several columns on the Oronsaye Report, I crave the indulgence of readers to share a few excerpts from the first one, ‘Public Service in Private interest’, published on 7th February 2013, before I conclude with my take on the current issue.


.. anybody who has read the report of the Presidential Committee on the Restructuring and Rationalisation of the Federal Government Paratastals, Commissions and Agencies cannot but understand the waste we call government in Nigeria. Chaired by former Head of Service, Mr Steve Oronsaye, the committee, established in August 2011, submitted its report in April 2012. And it has come out with damning revelations. The executive summary highlights some of the salient rot in the identified 541 federal government agencies, 50 of which have no enabling laws! There are also 55 agencies that are in the statutes book yet not under the supervision of any ministry and some of them include: National Agency for Population Programmes and Development; Population Activities Fund; Population Fund Activities Agency and Population Research Fund!

According to the report, one common feature of virtually all the parastatals is the prevalence of high personnel cost as “many of them receive more budgetary allocations for personnel than they require because that component of their budget is usually inflated”. Several of them are also “obvious duplications of existing bodies” which then underscores the fact of “overlaps and enormous wastage of scarce resources”. To compound the situation, “successive administrations have over the years created parastatals which were not necessarily based on requisite need assessment that would drive development agenda”.

Debts owed local contractors, the report stated, had long been verified and paid off by a previous administration, which instructed all MDAs to ensure that any new debt be treated as First Line charge entities in Annual Budgets. However, “several years on, it is worrisome that payment to local contractors continue to feature in our National Budget, thereby giving the impression that the authorities are condoning the bad behaviour”. Further revelations include the fact that there are 106 core research and quasi-research institutes spread across the nation with little or no end product and this may be why: “In the 2011 Fiscal year, the sum of N97,108,917,918 was allocated to all the Institutes with personnel and Overhead Costs accounting for N42,581,362,128 and N10,157,863,826 respectively. Of the N44,369,691,964 allocated to Capital, only N10,408,574,488 was for core research activities.” We can see from the more than N97 billion earmarked for Research Institutes that only about 10 percent of the money is expended on core research work with the rest going into salaries and sundry procurements!

Most of the revelations in the Oronsaye Report depict very clearly that public office in our country has become avenues for the pursuit of private interests by many. But that is just a small part of the story of waste if one considers the unwieldy nature of the governing boards of these agencies and their number, as well as their overlapping and duplicating functions. For instance, some of the agencies in the ministry of Culture and Tourism are: National Institute for Culture Orientation; National Theatre; National Troupe of Nigeria; National Council for Arts and Culture; Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization; National Gallery of Arts; National Commission for Museums and Monuments and then you have the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) and National Institute of Hospitality and Tourism Development Corporation! Yet each of these nine stand-alone agencies has a Director General or Managing Director, full board membership and a retinue of mostly redundant staff. And it is from the Oronsaye report that I learnt that we actually have a full-fledged Research Institute for the study of Trypanosomiasis!…

ENDNOTE: For those who are excited about the decision of the current administration to implement the Oronsaye Report, let me remind them that we have been down this road before. In April 2020, then Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, announced that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved implementation of the report on which a White Paper was also approved. “This is a report that has been in place for a long time and there hasn’t been implementation, but the President has approved that it should be implemented,” she declared. Not only was nothing done in that direction, but the administration ended up adding hundreds of new federal agencies such that the number of agencies in the federal government budget for this year is 929! So, rather than a reduction, we have almost doubled the number of federal government cost centres that we had 12 years ago before the Oronsaye Panel.

Mindful of this motion without movement that has been the bane of public engagement over the years, Oronsaye prefaced the submission of his report in 2012 with a recall. More than a decade after the White Paper on the Ahmed Joda Panel Report on the Review, Harmonization and Rationalization of Federal Government Parastatals, Institutions and Agencies (2000) by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, Oronsaye told President Jonathan twelve years ago, “some parastatals and agencies, which government had decided should either be scrapped, commercialized, privatized or self-funding, are still receiving full government funding, which runs into billions of Naira.” 

Reducing the cost of governance is good. But the jury is still out as to what the Tinubu administration intends to do with the Oronsaye Report. I will wait to see what happens in the coming weeks!

• You can follow me on my X (formerly Twitter) handle, @Olusegunverdict and on

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